Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Arroyo Grande Reading. Halftime Yearning. Remembering Francisco. Gemini evening.

Book Launch Reading in Pasadena Backyard

Michael Sedano

The spate of heavy rain exhausted itself and overnight the weather turned Southern California gorgeous. And since it looked like Spring had sprung early and was here to stay, people planned outdoor events, like the publication party for Jésus Salvador Treviño’s Return to Arroyo Grande.

As the day for the gathering of friends and readers approached, Pasadena skies clouded and rain threatened to wash out the reading and move it indoors. The hosts, Barbara and Michael Sedano, were bummed because Plan B, moving indoors, would challenge space and seating plans.

Treviño appreciated Sedano’s La Bloga review of Return to Arroyo Grande, the most recent in the author’s trilogy of speculative and fantasy stories. Treviño shared the column at Latinopia, where Treviño publishes excerpts from his exhaustive video and film archives, while advancing Chicana Chicano arts and literature through essay, interview, and review.

In the process of sharing the file we agreed that Treviño would do a reading at Casa Sedano. Treviño would record it and share it at Latinopia. Pick a date. That was in November.

Time, weather, hour, planning, calendars, all came together just right. The slight overcast that day offered perfect illumination for photography; clean clear light with no hard shadows.

This was a party of friends, most of them writers and storytellers.  Guests had come intending to  relax, hear a reading, and celebrate the writer's achievement.

Nonetheless, the afternoon calls to mind the importance in a book’s life of marketing. Hitting the hustings doing readings and signing books gets the book in front of its readers and launches good word-of-mouth. All manner of salutary effects on writer, reader, and book result from a relaxed event and a good reading.

Treviño put a lot of work into the reading, crafting his presentation with a flair. He selects a gruesome outer limits-style story and does characters. He growls with practiced vocalics in an author’s endeavor to extract every ounce of drama from the scene. One imagines Treviño wrestling with that text when he was writing it, now he's wrapping it around his tongue for rapt listeners, he ponders has he muted the horror enough but given it possibility?

The story and the author’s interpretive reading draw appropriate shivers and “Uyy” responses from the attentive guests. They talk about it afterward.  Another day, when they read the story, they will hear the author's voice again, re-experience this moment of delight.

Jesus Salvador Treviño's Return to Arroyo Grande should already be on the shelf of any reputatbly stocked independent bookseller. The bookseller, or you, can get your copies directly from Arte Publico Press.

Halftime Spectacle

Is the pedo still aflame in the aftermath of Beyoncé’s halftime show at the superbowl? When it first ignited, I thought back to a portrait I photographed in 1973 at a USC night football game.

Halftime spectacle filled the Coliseum floor with local youth bands and dancers and flag wavers and marching banners joining the USC Trojan Marching Band for halftime entertainment. The massed bands maneuver across the field to occupy midfield facing the hometown fans.

When the Trojan band takes the spotlight, the guest bands and flags and banners stand back and let the spectacle unfold. Tonight, a baton twirler spins flaming torches and dances toward the crowd, away from my lens.

I look to my side and notice the small girl holding her portion of a banner. Her own thin frame and ornate band uniform hidden behind the draping canvas, she is part of the background, the participant observer whose role is to hold that banner up steady and level and in a straight line.

The girl holding the banner studies the curvaceous baton twirler who is triumphant in the spotlight tonight. The dancer glows with excitement in her star turn before sixty thousand people, twirling tossing and catching the flaming baton under the stoic gaze of the little banner girl.

Watching from behind her banner, the girl's expression offers a hint of yearning, though for what, I can't know. I hope she found out and I hope it was good.

Does she want to be the star, like the twirler, all eyes on her?

Does she want to have a woman's body when she grows up?

Does her life matter enough that she got  the chance to find out?

I suppose it's a sign of progress, or maybe equity, or maybe about time, that Beyoncé shook her flaming batons on the nation's biggest football halftime show stage and used choreography and that bully pulpit to give voice to things that matter.

At any rate, I heard about the halftime show pedo and experienced a deja vú to that halftime show long ago, so I found the negative in my jumbled archive. The game shots are ho-hum, but the little banner girl is a keeper. Some fotos stay with you and that little girl holding the banner has stayed with me since I grabbed the shot.

Note: 35mm Tri-X negatives pushed to ASA 1600. Topcon camera and 200mm lens. Scanned with Nikon scanner and software.

In Memoriam: Francisco X. Alarcón. On-line Floricanto
Joseph Ross, Betty Sánchez, Joe Navarro, Carmen Calatayud, Mario Escobar

When Francisco X. Alarcón crossed over to The Other Side, his legacy included the poetry activism site on Facebook, Poets Responding to SB 1070 Poetry of Resistance. Always a community, the site wasn't Francisco's work alone. Francisco early on recruited Co-Moderators who helped maintain the site and nominate work for La Bloga On-line Floricanto.

Odilia Galván Rodríguez announced recently that she and the Co-Moderators of the poetry community have resolved to continue to maintain and nurture the site. On Facebook, Odilia writes:

Our brother, friend, maestro, and founder of Poets Responding to SB 1070 has gone home to the ancestros. A warrior to the end, he went to the other side with much courage and dignity. This is a great loss for our poet and social justice community and we have pledged to continue on with his (our) work, and his legacy!
Rest in poetry, peace, and power: Francisco X. Alarcon, Presente!
Love and blessings to his familia.
Odilia Galván Rodríguez for Poets Responding to SB 1070

Honoring el Maestro, the Moderators submit five poems in memoriam of our friend, Francisco X. Alarcón:

“We Will Dress With Color” By Joseph Ross
“¡Viva la vida!” Por Betty Sánchez
“Winged Palabras for Francisco X. Alarcón” By Joe Navarro
“New Sun” By Carmen Calatayud
“A mi amigo que partió demasiado pronto” Por Mario Escobar

We Will Dress With Color
By Joseph Ross

in memory of Francisco X. Alarcón
- the title is from a note for his funeral, gratitude to his sister, Esthela Alarcón

On our best nights, we swallow turquoise
so smooth it shines. That magical
blue with more questions than the sky.
We see through the brown
of soil that is all remnant,
an amber memory of what was:
roses, roots, wood-- whose color is
long past. This brown is the gold
of bones, long abandoned by living
skin, it sings like the gravedigger
who knows the truth of his work:
The only vocation is to dig.
On our best days, we breathe a green too
luminous for emeralds, they squint to taste
the shine of this verdant life. This
green of leaf and dew weeps the clarity
of tears, the water that blesses
and drowns in the same breath.
In our best voices, we speak a red more wet
than poems. This scarlet alarm
can wake us from a sleeping
life if only we will dress with color.
In your best language, you taught us to sing
an orange sun so silent we cannot know
if it is setting or rising. You taught us
to believe in both.

¡Viva la vida!
Por Betty Sánchez

Dedicado a Francisco X. Alarcón

Hermano Poeta
Hoy frente a ti
Con admiración y respeto
Rindo homenaje
A tu vida
A tu poesía
A tu sonrisa

Por ti y para ti
En el Solsticio de Invierno
Subí a la cima del cerro
De la Reina Cihualpilli
Para tomar parte
En una ceremonia
De liberación y pureza
El sonido del caracol
Hizo eco de tus versos
Que envueltos en el humo
Y aroma del copal
Ascendieron a las alturas
Hasta descender al santuario
De las mariposas monarca
Las cuales los esparcirán
Durante su aleteo migratorio
Para generaciones futuras

En la pirámide del sol
Vestida de blanco
Invoqué las cuatro direcciones
En tu nombre
Leí tus poemas y cerrando los ojos
Supliqué a nuestros antepasados
Por energía que sana
Y la envíe directo a tus entrañas

Percibí tu espíritu guerrero
En la miríada de colibrís
Que revolotearon a mi alrededor
En la Normal Rural de Atequiza
Semillero de maestros
Y revolucionarios

Crucé el umbral de iglesias
Capillas y santuarios
Encendí velas
Hice promesas
Derramé lagrimas
Y me arrodillé delante
De cristos ensangrentados
Madres piadosas y
Santos de rostro compasivo
Suplicando incesante
Por la restauración de tu salud

En el mural de las plegarias
De la Catedral de Cuernavaca
Pedí por escrito
Que tu luz siga resplandeciendo
Entre nosotros
Que tu inspiración siga fluyendo
Y alegrando nuestros días
Que el amor de tu familia
Y amigos
Sea la antorcha que alumbre
Tu camino en momentos oscuros

Solo me resta decir
¡Viva la Vida!
¡Viva Francisco X. Alarcón!

Winged Palabras for Francisco X. Alarcón
By Joe Navarro

Every time I see a monarch
Butterfly, I think of
Border-free flight
North to south
South to north
No passports, no migra
No deportations
No familias ripped apart
No political boundaries
Just freedom to travel
Mariposas, winged palabras
For Peace, equality, justice
Every time I see a monarch
Butterfly I think of
Palabras trilingües
Nahuatl, inglés, expañol
Travelling freely from the
Mind of a poeta y maestro
Palabras de esplendor y sabiduría
Murals of palabras volando sin puntuación
Por todas partes in the minds,
Souls and hearts of the world
Then I wonder to myself and aloud
To Francisco X. Alarcón
Who will tend to las mariposas now?

New Sun
For Francisco X. Alarcón
(Feb. 21, 1954 ~ Jan. 15, 2016)
By Carmen Calatayud

We hear your voice
in the western sky
as firecracker snaps,
dance of comets,
Nahuatl chants.

We hear your voice
across groves of olive trees:
How it feeds green leaves,
nourishes elder roots.

We hear your voice
from coast to river
to tributary, enter our veins,
vibrate as it circulates
through slow-moving blood.

We hear your voice
like sagestick smoke
that rises, becomes refuge
from gunshots and police
who target dark skin.

We hear your voice
as a well-timed tremor of
lightning that invites lost
sleepwalkers back to life.

We hear your voice
at the border wall
as it blooms into a lake of fire,
blaze of justice manifest
under fierce maternal moon.

We hear your voice
invoke the four directions,
migrate through the Milky Way
erupt as cosmic prayer,
release your marigold sun.

A mi amigo que partió demasiado pronto
Por Mario Escobar

RIP Francisco X. Alarcón

Sabemos que este respirar es pasajero
porque aun cuando nos miramos
eternamente caminando sobre la intensa cuerda
del tiempo,
desorden de huesos
el hábito de sentir el calor
de nuestros pensamientos
donde dejamos caer el mundo,
creyéndolo razonable
a cambio
de risas
y lágrimas eclipsadas
en la instantánea alegría,
al final
Y tengo rabia
y es que
siento tu muerte
como un profundo cansancio
que te deja extraviado
en la soledad de la espesa poesía
y sientes que ya no puedes más
y te cubres con la cobija del silencio
y haces del suelo una cuna
para no perder la locura
tan necesaria para creer
que aún

Today's On-line Floricanto Poets
Joseph Ross, Betty Sánchez, Joe Navarro, Carmen Calatayud, Mario Escobar

Joseph Ross is the author of three books of poetry: Ache (2017) Gospel of Dust (2013) and Meeting Bone Man (2012). He teaches English and Creative Writing at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. and writes regularly at JosephRoss.net. For my blog, books, and readings, visit JosephRoss.net.

"...your hour
    is a stone.
    My moment
    is a flower."

    from "Poet to Bigot" by Langston Hughes

Norma Beatriz Sánchez, poeta Mexicana.  Miembro activo del grupo literario Escritores del Nuevo Sol desde 2003. Ha participado en numerosos recitales poéticos tales como Poesía Revuelta, Honrando a Facundo Cabral, Noches de Voces Xicanas, entre otros. Finalista del concurso de poesía en español, Colectivo Verso Activo. Sus poemas se han publicado en la antología Voces y Cuentos del Nuevo Sol, Mujeres de  Maíz Zine 10 y 13, Revista La Palabra, La Bloga, Poets Responding to SB1070 y recientemente en la antologia: "The Borders Crossed Us"

Joe Navarro is a poet, creative writer, teacher, husband, father and grandfather. Originally from San Francisco CA, Joe has lived in Oakland CA, Denver CO, Hollister CA, and now lives in Hayward CA. Joe's writings focus on human rights, international solidarity, labor, immigrant, language rights, and oppressed nationality movements. His poetry can also be found at http://joenavarro.weebly.com

Carmen Calatayud's book In the Company of Spirits was a runner-up for the Walt Whitman Award, given by the Academy of American Poets. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She is a Larry Neal Poetry Award winner and a La Bloga Best Poem of 2013 winner. For five years, Calatayud was a poet moderator for the Facebook group Poets Responding to SB 1070. Born to a Spanish father and Irish mother in the U.S., Calatayud lives in the Washington, DC area.

Mario A. Escobar (January 19, 1978-) is a US-Salvadoran writer and poet born in 1978. Although he considers himself first and foremost a poet, he is known as the founder and editor of Izote Press. Escobar is an assistant professor in the Department of Foreign Languages at LA Mission College and also teaches at Cal State University. Some of Escobar’s works include Al correr de la horas (Editorial Patria Perdida, 1999) Gritos Interiores (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), La Nueva Tendencia (Cuzcatlan Press, 2005), Paciente 1980 (Orbis Press, 2012). His bilingual poetry appears in Theatre Under My Skin: Contemporary Salvadoran Poetry by Kalina Press.

San Antonio Reading

From the Producers:
For Poetry in Motion, Gregg Barrios, Joe Jimenez, Toni Franklin, Carmen Tafolla, and Ben Olguin share their poetry set in a collaborate fusion of performance, film, and music. This culturally diverse collective bring a 21th century vibe to spoken word performance.

Barrios and Company will perform on February 19th at the San Antonio Museum of Art at 10:00 PM.

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